Autism Treatments

Autism Information

Autism is a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, which in turn affects the development of an individual’s social interaction skills. This developmental disability is generally characterized by repetitive and restricted behavior, impaired communication and impaired social interaction.

Autism usually manifests itself during the first three years of an individual’s life. Overt symptoms normally appear at six months onwards, become more recognizable by the age of two to three and continue through adulthood, though in a more subdued form.

While this disorder has a solid genetic basis, its heritability is complex, because interactions among several genes, epigenetic factors and the environment do not change DNA, though they affect gene expression.

Environmental factors such as infectious diseases, solvents and heavy metals are said to exacerbate or contribute to autism, but this controversial claim has not yet been proven by studies. While there is no known cure for this condition, autism treatment does help autistic individuals live a near-normal life.

Autism Symptoms

No two autistic individuals will manifest exactly the same signs and symptoms of the disorder. Aside from experiencing different combinations of symptoms, the severity can differ from one person to another. One of the general symptoms of autism is social impairment, and strange social development becomes apparent during the early childhood years of the child.

Autistic babies have less attention to social stimuli, respond less when their name is called, and look and smile at others less often. At the age of three to five, they are less likely to display social understanding, respond and imitate emotions and communicate nonverbally.

Despite the widespread belief that autistics like to be alone, they in fact experience more frequent and intense loneliness than normal kids. Differences in communication among autistics can also be observed from the first year of their life.

Autistic persons do not usually share experiences or make requests, and have a tendency to reverse pronouns or repeat others’ words. Restricted or repetitive behavior seen among autistic individuals include hand flapping, head rolling, body rocking and making sounds.

Their interest, activity and focus are also limited, and they can be preoccupied to an individual game, toy or television program. Parents are advised to immediately seek help once these symptoms become evident in their child, as early diagnosis contributes to a successful and effective autism treatment.

Autism Treatment

Autism treatment is mainly aimed at minimizing related deficits and distress among the family and boosting functional dependence and quality of life. Treatment is usually personalized to the specific needs of autistic individuals.

When given in early stages of life, sustained and intensive behavior therapy and special education programs can help autistic children gain social skills, job skills and self-care. These also decrease the severity of symptoms, maladaptive behaviors and boost their functioning.

Various approaches to autism treatment are used and these include developmental models, applied behavioral analysis, language and speech therapy, occupational therapy, social skills therapy and structured teaching.

Autism treatment also includes alternative therapies, but these approaches only have a little support for quality of life. Several drugs such as anticonvulsants, psychoactive drugs, stimulants, antipsychotics and antidepressants are used for treating autism symptoms such as aggression, mood swings, compulsions and irritability.

However, there is no known medication that can relieve the core symptoms of communication and social impairments. These drugs can also have possible adverse effects, and sufferers may react unusually to these medicines.

After childhood, autism treatment should focus on residential care, social skills, sexuality and job training and placement. Fortunately, some people with autism manage to live independently after they reach adulthood.

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